The Hybrid Workplace of Today

Author: Eugenija Steponkute
Published: 18/12/2023

This article will discuss the evolution of the hybrid workplace, where it’s headed and whether you should stick to this working model. It’s an informative piece for business owners and team managers. 

Even if it’s not a current setup, your company most likely has implemented the hybrid work model at one point. This approach was the new normal for many companies when emerging out of the pandemic crisis, and while seen as a temporary measure, quite a few ended up adopting it permanently. However, one thing is certain. The hybrid that we knew back then is vastly different from the approach used today. 

As the model proved to be highly effective and a major driver of productivity, businesses started experimenting and pushing the boundaries. With this came the discovery of optimisation options, leading to the overall evolution of the approach. But here’s the curious thing: no company can successfully follow the footsteps of the other. The state of the hybrid workplace today is that it is unique to every organisation. 

The very purpose of the hybrid model is to help businesses be more flexible with their workforce arrangements. Naturally, it is very fluid in terms of its adaptability to business’ day-to-day processes and the team culture. Since it can be moulded into literally anything, it’s up to every company to create its custom approach. In this article, we will be talking about why should you stick with the hybrid instead of going back to the traditional 9-to-5 and how to effectively shape the environment that’s best for your company. 

Is Hybrid Work Going Away?

The short answer is no. Although intended to be a temporary solution to very unique circumstances, hybrid work is here to stay. In fact, many candidates now treat it as a dealbreaker when choosing the company of employment. 

The hybrid model offers a better work-life balance, convenience and reduced travel costs. It’s especially important to employees in big metropolitan areas where getting to work can be very complicated due to traffic, limited public transportation means, congestion fees and many more. Not to mention, some people simply don’t like the smart-casual attire.  

From the business point of view, it’s been proven that a team’s efficiency is booming in hybrid. The workers themselves claim that their productivity increased when combining in-office and remote work. Full remote working was a welcome short-term change to many, but with its extension, more and more employees expressed interest in being present at the workplace too. However, the very same employees made a note they are not interested in going back to their 9-to-5 in-person routine for the entirety of the work week. Hybrid model is a perfect way to balance these two opposing needs, therefore contributing to the employee satisfaction, retention and future talent attraction. The hybrid approach has changed since its first appearance and keeps evolving. That’s a telling sign it is not going anywhere anytime soon. 

Hybrid vs Traditional 9-to-5

So, what makes the hybrid approach so powerful it’s rapidly replacing the traditional office-based 9-to-5? There are many benefits and some of them would need a separate article for themselves. So let us summarise some of the key ones instead. 

Access to a Wider Talent Pool

Incorporating remote working into your strategy is one of the characteristics of the hybrid working arrangement. While some workplaces understand hybrid as having their employees differentiate between working on-site and remotely, others are happy to grant some workers the right to stay permanently remote. There are no specific rules stating what’s the right way of doing things as hybrid thrives on flexibility and meeting your needs on your terms. However, we advise you to keep your mind open to all kinds of options and to experiment with them.

You remove a restrain that is the distance by offering flexible work opportunities, the size of the talent pool you’ll have at your disposal will increase exponentially. Depending on how comfortable you are with the idea, you could even dip into the global arena, handpicking your future employees from literally anywhere in the world. Before you do that, however, you will need to ensure you have the right tools in place to support easy management of fully remote employees. But we will be discussing it in greater depth further ahead as it’s important enough to be a topic of its own.

Cost Efficiency

There are many ways in which the hybrid work model helps your business save money. But the most obvious one is the cost of the office space. Even if you don’t give it up entirely, you will likely need the premises of a smaller capacity when you don’t have your full team in. This can seriously slash the cost. Additionally, when there are fewer workers, you will be cutting other expenses too. Think little things like coffee, water cooler refills, snacks, toiletries and others. Not to mention bigger expenses such as electric and gas bills. 

Depending on your goals, working in a hybrid can also save you heaps of money when employing contractors and temporary workers for projects instead of bringing more permanent salaried staff in that will be facing idle periods. If your company also compensates staff for their travelling expenses, reducing the time they spend travelling for work matters will automatically translate into further savings too. All these things may sound like penny-pinching efforts, but believe us when we say they stack up. Not to mention, the accumulated funds can then be put towards further bettering of not just the work arrangements but the company overall.

Long-term Business Investment

An efficient hybrid workplace employs many digital tools to connect teams that are both on-site and remote. They are one of the key requirements when going hybrid, and the market is brimming with all kinds of solutions. Be it a platform for web meetings or a space enabling working together in real-time, you will certainly need a vast variety of tools. And it can get very costly very fast. If you’re unsure whether you are sticking with the hybrid setup long-term or if you just want to test it out, it can be very discouraging. However, even if the approach doesn’t work out for you, it’s a good idea to invest in the said tools regardless. 

Digital transformation is not just a buzzword but also a necessity for businesses to survive. Pretty much all the tools you would onboard to support your company functioning in a hybrid environment can be used to better a variety of processes unrelated to managing mixed teams. Digital tools allow you to automate tasks, bring detailed reports and can generally improve the way your company is running. Investing in a digital toolbox is equivalent to investing in your business. Even if you choose to go back to the traditional 9-to-5.

When stored digitally, documentation can be easily accessed from a variety of devices. You also control who gets the said access and what’s the level of it. Uploaded documents are stored on the cloud, meaning they are protected by layers of encryption and are secure in overseas servers, ensuring no one but you and the ones you grant permission to can access them. That’s right, not even the provider of the software. What’s more, any changes made to documents can be tracked back and reversed in just a couple of clicks. 

Adjusting the Team Better

Just like previously, you need to implement a number of changes within your company to ensure it can adopt the hybrid approach effectively. It’s also an important step to take to ensure the setup not only works but drives the performance instead of hindering it. Unsure where to begin? Let us give you a couple of hints.

Review Your Work Policy

The most complicated part about going hybrid is the fact you will need to fundamentally change your work policy. Of course, you won’t be required to rewrite the entire thing, but several core things will need to be adjusted, expanded or even removed. Now there are two scenarios this can go. First, if you are diligent in keeping your work policy up to date and revise it every so often, another review and changes won’t be too inconvenient. The second scenario, on the other hand, is a whole lot more common. Many companies treat work policy as a one-off task and don’t revisit it until it’s a must. Before you can change an outdated policy, you will first need to bring it up to date - which is a time-consuming task of its own. 

So, what should go into your hybrid workplace policy? First and foremost, it should clearly define the rules to which your company’s employees should abide. For example, every employee is required to be present in the office once a week. If you offer flexible hours, the timeframe should be clarified. The tools and technical requirements your company relies on to support not just efficiency but also safety should be listed in the policy as well as their acceptable alternatives, if possible. Most of the sections covered should already exist within your policy - you will just need to expand them. For example, you may want to add a clause to the section on the usage of the company’s computers that remote workers must have a VPN on at all times.

Efficient Remote Communication

Now that we’ve mentioned VPNs being a requirement for safe remote working, let’s talk about what’s needed to keep it efficient too. As we all know, not being able to talk eye-to-eye is prone to cause miscommunications. We can’t read body language and easily misconstrue the tone over emails which can affect the time spent on tasks and even cause conflict situations. And as we have learned from nearly a year of being forced into doing video calls to replace all the meetings, this approach doesn’t serve as a full replacement. This calls the question of whether remote (and therefore hybrid) working will always be subpar to in-person collaborations. Our answer is no. 

While it’s true that video chats will never be as efficient as eye-to-eye meetings, it is not the only form of communication. In fact, especially when working in hybrid, you need to bridge different parts of your teams using a variety of tools that are designated to let them work together. The simplest examples would be instant messengers that let team members exchange messages quickly. Then it’s tools like shared document drives where employees can modify, review and update files. And finally, there are less spoken-about solutions that allow you to create smooth workflows where tasks are handed over from person to person upon each completing their respective tasks.

Find the Best Hybrid Schedule 

No hybrid model is the same. Each company has its own micro-climate, preferences, possible unique operation times and many more. While the flexibility offered by this approach is great, it will also take you some time to figure out what’s the best schedule for your company. A good first step is to start thinking about how much staff you actually need on-site at any given time. From there, you can start working out a schedule on who is in on what days. Don’t expect it to be perfect from the get-to and be prepared some of your workers might be opposed to the primary decisions. Inform them this schedule is temporary and stick to your word. 

The next factors to take into consideration is the availability and preference of your employees. Naturally, everyone has a different life rhythm and out-of-work responsibilities. For example, one worker may favour coming in on Tuesdays and Thursdays, because on other days it’s their turn to drop their little ones to school. Then, try getting members of teams that work closely together to come in on the same day. Sales and marketing are often involved in the same processes and collaborate a lot, so it would make sense to give them an opportunity to hold an in-person meeting at least once a week. Finally, don’t feel like you need to have a setup your competition may have. Ultimately, you are looking for a solution that works for you.

Carry on Optimising

The hybrid work model has evolved a lot since it first emerged in COVID as a measure to start re-introducing teams to office life while being limited by restrictions. No one foresaw this becoming a permanent approach for many companies across all industries. Due to its novelty and everyone essentially stumbling around in the dark at first, there are no set rules on what is the right way to ‘be hybrid’. In its essence, hybrid is all about flexibility and adjustment to grow efficiency without sacrificing the comfort of your workers. 

And this is what makes this work approach incredibly prone to change. Similarly to most SaaS tools, no company will have the same setup as the other. The hybrid working model is very individual and is optimised to align with not just the company’s goals but also its processes, team dynamics and a plethora of other criteria. There are no ‘best practices’ and we encourage you to carry on experimenting until you find the setup that is working the best for your team. Once you have that as a foundation, you can tinker with the smaller components, exploring your other options and continuously improving as you go.

Key Takeaway 

Despite being developed as a temporary solution, the hybrid workplace became the permanent setup for many companies. Alas, it has changed in comparison to its primary form too. Companies, encouraged by the positive change it had on their productivity and efficiency, became braver in experimenting and optimising this new work model. It also led to the discovery that a perfect hybrid setup is different for everyone. 

There are many reasons why hybrid has risen in popularity even after the pandemic and shouldn’t be considered just a fad. Namely, it expands your options when hiring by allowing you to access a wider talent pool. It is also a great way to cut down on expenses such as office space, travelling expenses and others. And while adopting the tools that will support hybrid working will come with a cost, it’s certainly an investment in your business overall. 

However, to create a more effective hybrid workplace that meets today’s standards, you need to be ready to do some internal jobs too. Reviewing your work policy is the first task you need to carry out. You will also need to spend time researching ways to build efficient communication between remote and on-site teams. But the most time-consuming task where you will be learning through trial and error is finding the hybrid schedule that works.

There is some hassle when it comes to optimising a hybrid office. But you don’t have to do it alone. Timesheet Portal will assist you.

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